Yearly Archives: 2021

Important Back-to-School Update from the Director of Education

Dear Waterloo Catholic Community –

I hope that you have enjoyed a pleasant, restful and healthy Christmas season with your family.  While generally a time of celebration and joy, it has been a time of concern for many due to the increase in COVID-19 cases that we have been witness to in our communities and reported in the media.

The omicron variant has become the dominant strain of COVID with unprecedented speed and we have seen case counts grow at an exponential rate – faster than any wave before.  The good news is that both globally and here in Ontario, the greater majority of all cases are relatively mild and the percentage that lead to serious illness seem to be very few.

With that said – the need for caution is very real, given the sheer volume of cases.  Our care and concern for our vulnerable population and our health care workers who have done so much to serve our communities must remain one of our highest priorities.  As a result, the Provincial Government, through the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has updated a number of points of guidance and procedure.

This letter provides very important updates about the return to school this new year.

Return to School:

The return to in-person learning for all students will be delayed to Wednesday January 5, 2022.  (This includes St Isidore and St Louis).  Students should continue to use the Rapid Antigen Tests you received before the break, and any positive result should be considered a final result, confirming a COVID infection.

Please see the note below regarding timing of the last two tests.  No staff or student should attend work or school after a positive result. Instructions on their use were provided by your local school before the break, along with instruction videos in multiple languages.

Testing:

In Ontario, PCR tests will no longer be available to staff and students or the general public, so screening for symptoms and treating any symptom as confirmation of omicron is the recommendation.  The ministry hopes to provide more rapid tests for staff and students in the weeks to come.

With the start of school moved to January 5th we would ask that you use the last 2 tests on January 3rd and the morning of January 5th.

This will ensure the best chance of a safe return for all.  Please make a best effort to honour this request.

Screening:

It is more important than ever before, that anyone feeling ill should not attend school. All children, students, staff, and visitors must be screened for symptoms of illness every day before attending school or childcare.  Any student or staff member with any symptom should not report to school.

To help meet this requirement, you may use the provincial screening tool found here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/.

Confirmation of self-screening will still be a requirement when we return to school and we will continue to reinforce masking and hand hygiene, as well as cohorting and physical distancing with students and our staff.

Case and Contact Management:

Public Health will no longer support case and contact management for schools.  Therefore – if you or your child believe that you are dealing with a case of COVID, (because you have one or more symptoms) it is up to you to ensure household contacts remain isolated and to ensure you remain isolated until the positive case is both symptom free for 24 hours and it has been 5 days since symptom onset for vaccinated individuals (2 vaccines) and 10 days since symptom onset for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated individuals.

Household contacts should also isolate for the duration of the isolation of the positive case. We hope to receive further guidance from Public Health and will share it as it becomes available.

Learning Continuity:

We know that many of the doctors and experts believe that the best place for a student is in school, and we know that our students and staff have been very pleased to return to in person learning this school year.  We do agree that for most students it is where they learn best.

We will not be entertaining new requests to switch to St Isidore at this time, as this would necessitate a full re-organization of the school system.

We will be reviewing learning continuity options in the days to come and when students are absent they can check on their class Google or D2L site for their learning.  We will offer more updates in the days to come.

Masks: 

Students will be provided with expanded access to free high quality three-ply cloth masks.  We encourage our students to use these masks and to wash them on a regular basis.  The use of these specific masks is not mandatory but encouraged as they may be more effective than some of the current one- and two-ply cloth masks being used.  In addition, the Ministry will also provide education staff with the option to use either the current medical grade masks or a non-fit-tested N95 mask.

Socializing:

The holidays are typically characterized as a time to gather.  There are only a few days left but please consider if all public health guidelines are being observed and ensure you do not gather if you are not well.  Our children will rely on us to guide them and to make strong, responsible decisions on their behalf.

Vaccination:

Vaccination for children ages 5 – 11 is currently underway.  Booster shots for anyone over 18 years of age have been possible since Monday, December 20th.  Vaccination remains the best defence against COVID-19, as endorsed by experts at the Ontario Science Table, the Chief Medical Officer of Health and our own Region of Waterloo Public Health.

The omicron variant is highly transmissible, and consideration of vaccination for yourself and your child is very important in stopping the disease’s spread and also in ensuring that if COVID is acquired, that symptoms remain mild and manageable.  Stopping the spread is important so that everyone can spend more time in school and so the most vulnerable amongst us are not negatively impacted.

Extra-Curriculars:

With the updated guidance from the government, there will be a pause to high contact sports such as basketball and wrestling, as well as to multi-cohort choirs and wind instrument ensembles.  We will be reviewing our Operational Guidelines to ensure they are consistent with all updated guidance from the province and encourage you to review it here next week:  Operational Guidelines

We know that it may be challenging to be navigating these times.  We understand that many of you will be concerned and will only want the best for yourself and your children.  We encourage you to follow the guidelines as outlined to the best of your ability and to trust that our schools still remain largely safe.

I have been doing a fair bit of reading over the break and many experts have reflected that it is sometimes darkest before the dawn.  Let us continue to be people of hope that brighter days will lie ahead, and perhaps in the not-too-distant future, the days will be significantly brighter.

Let’s us hold to the promise of the nativity and the message of love, hope and joy that it offers.

Sincerely,

Loretta Notten

Director of Education

December 31st, 2021
By |2021-12-31T12:08:14-05:00December 31st, 2021|News|Comments Off on Important Back-to-School Update from the Director of Education

Important Message from Director Notten

 

 

December 16th, 2021

Dear Waterloo Catholic Community –

As I write this letter we sit on the cusp of our Christmas break and perhaps more than ever, we can all appreciate the need for a pause.  If I am to be honest, we are not heading into the break as optimistically as we were even just a week or two ago.  The situation has changed fairly rapidly and so we have a few things of which to take note.  I do want to acknowledge that it has been a remarkable fall and early winter, and it is indeed a true testament to everyone in the entire WCDSB community that we made it to Christmas with all our schools still open and truly thriving, despite the reality of the pandemic.  Thank you to everyone in our WCDSB family for your ongoing efforts which have made the school re-opening process so successful, and for adhering to public health and safety measures that have ensured schools remain a safe place for our students and staff.

A few points of update:

Vaccination:

Vaccination for children ages 5 – 11 is currently underway.  Booster shots for anyone over 18 years of age will be possible as of this Monday, December 20th.  Vaccination remains the best defence against COVID-19, as endorsed by experts at the Ontario Science table, the Chief Medical Officer of Health and our own Waterloo Region Public Health.  The omicron variant is highly transmissible and so consideration for vaccination for yourself and your child is very important in stopping the disease spread.  Stopping its spread is important so that everyone can spend more time in school and so the most vulnerable amongst us are not negatively impacted.

Socializing:

The holidays are typically characterized as a time to gather.  Please consider if all public health guidelines are being observed and ensure you do not gather if you are not well.  Our children will rely on us to guide them and to make strong responsible decisions on their behalf.

Rapid Antigen Test Kits:

All students have received 5 rapid antigen test screening kits.  They are to be used in the 10 days proceeding the start of in person schooling.  The earliest date one should be used is December 23rd.  Assuming the start of school remains January 3rd, they should be used every other day starting on the 23rd.  Instructions have been provided by your local school, along with instruction videos in multiple languages.

Potential for School Closure:

At the current time we have no indication from the province or Waterloo Region Public Health that we will not be returning in January.  Nonetheless we are sending children home with Chromebooks where needed, should anything change over the holidays.  If the date for the re-opening of school changes to a date later than January 3rd, we will notify you of the date you should start using the Rapid Antigen Tests.  Otherwise please begin on December 23rd, 2021.

Case and Contact Management:

When a student or staff member is a high-risk close contact of a positive case they must isolate.  You will receive a letter and/or text message from Public Health with these details.  It is important to note that at the current time if the positive case is the omicron variant, even if an individual is vaccinated, they have to quarantine.  This is a change in practice, but it is in response to the highly transmissible nature of the variant.

Sports:

Waterloo Region Public Health has asked us to pause all athletics and extra-curriculars in our schools.  We have had good success with our program and our health and safety support measures, however activity in the community – specifically a large hockey tournament has caused a sharp increase in our community.  It is important to note that if you participate in a large community event, public health measures should still be observed and that when we let down our guard, that is when COVID can take hold and spread.

Screening

As a reminder, anyone feeling ill should not attend school. All children, students, staff, and visitors must be screened for symptoms of illness every day before attending school or childcare. To help meet this requirement, you may use the provincial screening tool found here: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/.  Confirmation of Self-screening will still be a requirement when we return to school and we will continue to reinforce masking and hand hygiene, as well as cohorting and physical distancing with students and our staff.

Potential Travel

A reminder that students under 12, travelling with vaccinated parents do not have to quarantine per se, but they are not allowed to return to school until 14 days from return have passed.  This guidance is found on our webpage.  This is federal policy we are sharing.  https://www.wcdsb.ca/covid-19-student-screening-and-testing/

 

We sincerely thank you for journeying with us.   May each of you and your families enjoy a beautiful Christmas Season.   A simpler Christmas firmly focused on family certainly sounds like the ideal and perhaps it will be a simple reminder that the first Christmas was indeed a humble beginning that provided the greatest gift the world has ever known.  Let us continue to be people of hope who celebrate the birth of a tiny babe who shared a powerful message of love and salvation.

Sincerely,

Loretta Notten

Director of Education

 

By |2021-12-16T15:07:38-05:00December 16th, 2021|News|Comments Off on Important Message from Director Notten

Preparations for January

Dear Families

As I am sure you may have heard in the news, both school boards are preparing students and families just in case the Ministry of Education or Waterloo Region Public Health decides that we must pivot to online learning come January.  As we wish to be prepared in the event that announcement does come we are taking the following steps:

  1. Students will bring home all of their personal belongings.
  2. If you requested a ChromeBook via School Cash Online from our last pivot a couple weeks ago, we are sending home a Chromebook today just in case.  If your child does not bring home a Chromebook today, please call the school tomorrow to arrange for a pick up before 3:30 p.m.
  3. If your child is absent this week, please contact their classroom teacher to arrange for a pick up of personal items.  We will have these items ready for you at the front door and can have a safe pick up before 3:30 p.m.

If no announcement comes and we are back in person on January 3rd. Please return all of the items on that day.

Thank you

Mr. Petrella

 

By |2021-12-16T10:30:46-05:00December 16th, 2021|News|Comments Off on Preparations for January

Rapid Antigen Test Kits

Minister Letter to Parent Winter Break 2021 – EN – FINAL-AODA

Dear Families

Today we sent home the Rapid Antigen Test Kits provided by the Provincial Government.  Each Test Kit was sent home with a copy of a letter from Dr. Moore and Minister Lecce.  You may click on the above link to access the letter.  For any families who are absent this week, please contact the office and we can arrange for a safe pick up of the test kits.

Thank you

 

By |2021-12-13T15:10:08-05:00December 13th, 2021|News|Comments Off on Rapid Antigen Test Kits

Bus 98 – White Late

White Bus 98 is delayed by 20 – 30 minutes.

Children are now on the bus and heading home.

Thank you

By |2021-12-09T15:49:30-05:00December 9th, 2021|News|Comments Off on Bus 98 – White Late

Sacraments Weekend

and

Our school wishes all families to join us in prayer for our 2021 students who will receive the Sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Communion this weekend.

A letter was emailed to families this week for the 2022 students to register to receive these sacraments in the spring.

Thank you and May God Bless these students.

 

By |2021-12-08T13:04:05-05:00December 8th, 2021|News|Comments Off on Sacraments Weekend

Taking Part in Ontario’s Rapid Antigen Testing Program

Please see the letter below from Region of Waterloo Public Health.  For any questions about this program, please contact them directly at 519-575-4400. 

Parents and families,

To help re-open Blessed Sacrament Catholic Elementary School safely on December 6, 2021, Public Health is recommending that your school take part in the Rapid Antigen Screening program. This program helps prevent spread in schools and lets you know if your child has COVID-19.

What is a rapid antigen test?
A rapid antigen test is done at home with a swab in the nose. It takes less than 30 minutes to test and get results. Instructions (written and video) on how to do the rapid antigen test are on Public Health’s website: www.regionofwaterloo.ca/COVID19RapidTest
• Videos: https://bit.ly/rapidresponsetesting and https://bit.ly/takehometesting

Who is this program for?
It is your choice if your child takes part in the testing program. Students who are unvaccinated, do not have symptoms of COVID-19 and are not currently isolating as a high-risk contact can be tested. Students who recently recovered from COVID-19 in the last 90 days are not eligible for this program and should not participate in rapid testing until 90 days after infection.

How do I pick up the testing kit?
Your school will let you know how and when to pick up the testing kit. (Please see email sent out on December 1st)

When do I test my child?
Test your child prior to going to school as follows:
Week 1 – Monday, December 6th; Wednesday, December 8th; Friday, December 10th
Week 2 – Tuesday, December 14th; Thursday, December 16th

How do I report the results?
Parents must report all test results using the following link https://my.thrive.health/ on a mobile device or desktop and using code: ROWPHE-BSCES2021. Parents who choose not to use the Thrive Health link must call 519-575-4400 ext. 5990 to report results including your child name, grade, date and time of test and result

What do I do if the results are positive or negative?
Children who test negative can go to school. Daily COVID-19 screening: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/ is still required.

Children who test positive:
• Need a PCR COVID-19 test: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/assessment-centre-locations.
• Isolate until the PCR COVID-19 results come back
o If the PCR test is negative, children can return to school
o If the PCR test is positive, continue to isolate and Public Health will be in touch with instructions

Thank you for helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

For questions, contact Region of Waterloo Public Health at 519-575-4400.

 

By |2021-12-02T10:29:19-05:00December 2nd, 2021|News|Comments Off on Taking Part in Ontario’s Rapid Antigen Testing Program

IMPORTANT!! Vaccine Information Session for Parents/Guardians of Children (5-11)

   

IMPORTANT!! Vaccine Information Session for Parents/Guardians of Children (5-11)

Vaccine Information Session for Parents/Guardians of Children (5-11)

Presenter: Dr. Kelly Grindrod, Associate Professor from the University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy

Date: December 2, 2021

Time: 7- 8:30 p.m.

Zoom Meeting Link

There will be an opportunity to ask questions following the presentation.

 

Vaccines are an important tool to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and allow families to safely resume normal activities.

 

Although children and youth are less likely to get very sick from COVID-19 they can still:
  • Get sick from COVID-19
  • Be infected and not have any symptoms
  • Spread COVID-19 to others
  • Experience longer-term effects if they do get infected
COVID-19 vaccines authorized by Health Canada are safe, reliable, and can help protect you, your family, and our community from COVID-19. Learn more about the COVID-19 vaccines.

 

This webpage will be updated when additional information about COVID-19 vaccines for children becomes available.

Can my child get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Children born in 2016 or earlier are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Find information about how to get a vaccine.

A Parent’s Guide to Vaccination (available in 13 languages)

 
By |2021-11-30T09:04:01-05:00November 30th, 2021|News|Comments Off on IMPORTANT!! Vaccine Information Session for Parents/Guardians of Children (5-11)

Fall Update from Director Notten

            Nov 22nd, 2021

Dear WCDSB Community,

We hope that you continue to be well and that you have had a healthy and enjoyable fall season.  We are pleased that, for the most part, our schools continue to be safe and healthy places for learning to prosper.  We have not been without our challenges this fall, but with a few exceptions, our COVID-19 case counts have remained quite low and we are so grateful to both our staff and our families for working hard to follow all the necessary guidelines and precautions.

This letter once again brings a few very important updates of which we would like you to be aware as they are important to your understanding as to how things are unfolding and precautions we wish to continue to enforce, so that we may continue on a safe, healthy and positive path as a community.

Vaccination

As you have no doubt heard in the media, vaccination for children ages 5-11 is now ready to be rolled out in the province and within Waterloo Region.  The Chief Medical Officer of Health for the Province and local Public Health offer us the guidance, as the experts, that this is our best defence against COVID-19.  It will assist in keeping our children healthy, as well as all those with whom they have contact.  Vaccinations will be available at Public Health vaccination sites, community hubs, local pharmacies and at a few school pop-up sites (of which you will be informed when they are occurring).  A parent’s approval will be required for any child 5-11 to be vaccinated and any school-based sites will happen after hours.  Parents can begin making appointments as of today.

As a parent you may have questions about the vaccine for children 5-11 year olds.  Our local Public Health Unit is sponsoring a virtual parent information session, via Zoom, on Thursday Dec 2nd, from 7 – 8:30 p.m.  The presentation, along with a question-and-answer session, will be given by Dr. Kelly Grindrod, Ontario College of Pharmacists Professor in Pharmacy Innovation and Associate Professor, University of Waterloo School of Pharmacy.  We would encourage any parent who still has questions about the vaccine to attend this session.

Rapid Antigen Testing for Students over Christmas Break

On November 18th, the provincial government announced that over the Christmas Break rapid antigen screen kits will be provided to any and all students who wish to take home 5 tests to be administered every few days between Dec 23rd and Jan 4th, so that we are better assured a safe and healthy return to school in January 2022, and a safer, healthier coming together with Friends and Family over the Christmas Season.

Sports / Athletics

As reported in previous letters, we have been pleased to see the return of athletics and sport to our schools and for inter-scholastic play to have returned for those age 12 and older.  The criteria to play is full vaccination and/or proof of a negative test.  This strategy is being used in a very targeted way for students who are not able to use our other usual strategies to ensure their safety – that is – they are unable to ensure masking and social distancing.  This strategy has now been endorsed by the province and will now continue for the foreseeable future for us at WCDSB.  We are extremely pleased by this decision.

Additional Health and Safety Measures

Also part of the November 19th announcement was the direction that all Parent-Teacher interviews should take place virtually (or by phone).  Similarly, schools are asked to ensure that assemblies occur virtually to ensure cohorts are not blending and social distancing is maintained.

Secondary Delivery Model

The province has opened the door to the second half of the year being delivered through a proper semestered model – which is 4 periods or 4 75 minute classes in a day.  This decision will have to be supported by Public Health based on cases and other relevant data.  At the current time we are hopeful that we will be in a position to return to a semestered/4 period day in February.

 Potential Travel

A reminder that students under 12, travelling with vaccinated parents do not have to quarantine per se, but they are not allowed to return to school until 14 days from return have passed.  This guidance is found on our webpage.  This is federal policy we are sharing.

https://www.wcdsb.ca/covid-19-student-screening-and-testing/

Screening

As we have shared before, please know that one of the most important things you do each and every day is to complete the screening tool before you as a staff member or student (or parent of a student) arrive at school.  Any individual who fails the screener or who is symptomatic in any way should not be reporting to school.  That is part of our collective responsibility to one another.

https://covid-19.ontario.ca/school-screening/

Please review our full Operational Guidelines to ensure you understand how we are continuing to ensure a safe and happy school experience for all.

We continue to be exceptionally grateful for your support and partnership as we navigate this unique year.

Sincerely

Loretta Notten

Director of Education

By |2021-11-23T10:54:16-05:00November 23rd, 2021|News|Comments Off on Fall Update from Director Notten
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